4 thoughts on “Linking Sexual Shame and Addiction

  • February 27, 2014 at 9:33 am

    How utterly bizarre that u were able to knowv exactly how I’ve been feeling and going thru for at least 30yrs..I’m the third oldest of eight children..my 2 older sisters got married…My oldest sisters husband raped me wen I was 12, but had been “messing around” with me since I was about 9to…due to family gatherings I still saw him often..After my sister and he had 2 boys, they moved a bit further into the city..So my second sisters husband took his spot in the aside…Although he didn’t rape me,he touched me in very inappropriate ways…he wood try to get my to watch b porn with him…I was only 14 then…I spoke to noone…Then I met who I thought was my soul mate, and although we of course had the usual arguments, we federally got along well….although I was extremely extremely jealous..Especially if I saw him perving at other women when I was with him..He knew it hurt me terribly but he didn’t seen to care for my feelings..I did confide in him about wot had happened to me but he was do blase about it, he even became quite friendly with my second sisters husband and they did alot together..I started smoking merg ALOT, even tho I had 3 young boys…After about 17 years with my “soul mate”, I discovered he had a porn addiction, had frequented strip bars, topless bars and other things..This had been going on for at least 15yrs..my family knew I used drugs, and so they always looked out for the “signs”..All they saw was a drug addict, but noone knew anything that had happened to me with my 2 brother in laws and the shock, disbelief, lies and second life my so called husband was living!!..He was also increased with a female actress…So, over a period of approx 24 yrs, I’ve been on and off meth plus, when I can get anything like Canada or valium….As wen I withdraw from my binge in meth,I withdraw quite violently…My life has been like this for so long now, I wldnt know how to even go about changing…because I really feel that regardless of how I heal myself and break my habits…I know all thus pain will always always be with me!!….

  • February 27, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Deep shame is not good for anyone, whether with sexual symptoms or not. But I am not sure that it is as good a predictor of non-normative sexual acting out as high sex drive might be.

    Dr. Steven Reiss, the great motivational psychologist, writes of this in another context, regarding the off-the-charts, highly promiscous art patron Peggy Guggenheim, who is often taken to be a “sex addict”. Reiss talks of her alleged feelings of “being unloved.” I’m going to substitute the words “deep shame” in brackets It is worth a paraphrase:

    “Now let’s compare these two theories to see which one better explains Peggy Guggenheim’s promiscuous lifestyle. Psychodynamic theory says that Guggenheim engaged in promiscuous sex to reduce the anxiety associated with her feelings of [deep shame]. Motivation analysis says that Guggenheim engaged in promiscuous sex to satisfy a voracious appetite. We can scientifically evaluate these theories by studying two groups. Group A might consist of 100 people with poor self-concept (feelings of [deep shame]) and average sex drive. Group B might consist of 100 people with average self-concept and above-average sex drive. I believe that even the dullest of psychologists executing such a study will find that Group B is more promiscuous than Group A. In other words, I believe that sex drive predicts promiscuous behavior better than does [deep shame].


  • April 6, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    I agree with this article that shame is one of the most pervasive underlying factors in a range of problematic behaviors including addictions. Shame is difficult to reflect upon and difficult to talk about and people can remain stuck in this destructive personal prison fro a lifetime. However, shame can result from a wide range of childhood experiences other than sexual abuse with similar consequences. Should we not keep a wider focus?

  • April 20, 2014 at 8:52 am

    In my opinion, this is a great article and right on the money. I came across Brene Brown’s work a few years ago and have been singing her praises and teaching her concepts ever since. I also appreciate the connections Mr. Weiss made between healthy shame and guilt and toxic shame and “plain old” shame. I also agree that the topic of shame and relapse is not talked about enough in addiction treatment.

    I have been a treatment provider in the addiction field for almost 7 years and, although I have seen some attention paid to shame and its connection to substance use, I have never seen an organized program or modality specifically geared towards gaining an understanding of it and a way to minimize its devastating affect on long-term sobriety.

    While working at an inpatient rehab last year, I developed a three-part seminar/group which is based on Dr. Brown’s theories on shame and other information that I found while doing research on the subject. I knew I was on to something when I presented it to a group of patients for the first time. As I introduced the idea that it is possible to reframe the concept of shame to where it won’t have the devastating impact on sobriety that the patients all identified with, I looked around the room and saw 12 people nodding their heads in agreement.

    Shame should be part of every treatment program’s curriculum, as well as an essential component of individual counseling regardless of the treatment setting. I agree that if shame is not addressed in a direct fashion, the probability of relapse will increase greatly. I also agree that a research study would be a very useful endeavor.


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